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Oligomers on the Brain: the Emerging Role of Soluble Protein Aggregates in Neurodegeneration.

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Extracellular fibrous amyloid deposits or intracellular inclusion bodies containing abnormal protein fibrils characterize many different neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease (AD), Parkinson's disease (PD), dementia with Lewy bodies, multiple system atrophy, Huntington's disease, and the transmissible ‘prion’; dementias. There is strong evidence from genetic, transgenic mouse and biochemical studies to support the idea that the accumulation of protein aggregates in the brain plays a seminal role in the pathogenesis of these diseases. How monomeric proteins ultimately convert to highly polymeric deposits is unknown. However, studies employing, synthetic, cell-derived and purified recombinant proteins suggest that amyloid proteins first come together to form soluble low n-oligomers. Further association of these oligomers results in higher molecular weight assemblies including so-called ‘protofibrils’ and ‘ADDLs’ and these eventually exceed solubility limits until, finally, they are deposited as amyloid fibrils. With particular reference to AD and PD, we review recent evidence that soluble oligomers are the principal pathogenic species that drive neuronal dysfunction.
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Keywords: aggregation; alzheimer; amyloid; neurodegeneration; synuclein

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: Department of Neurology, Harvard Medical School and Center for Neurologic Diseases, Brigham and Women's Hospital, 77 Avenue Louis Pasteur, Boston, MA 02115,

Publication date: 2004-06-01

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  • Protein & Peptide Letters publishes short papers in all important aspects of protein and peptide research, including structural studies, recombinant expression, function, synthesis, enzymology, immunology, molecular modeling, drug design etc. Manuscripts must have a significant element of novelty, timeliness and urgency that merit rapid publication. Reports of crystallisation, and preliminary structure determinations of biologically important proteins are acceptable. Purely theoretical papers are also acceptable provided they provide new insight into the principles of protein/peptide structure and function.
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